Building A Pond

This page is the next in our series about building a pond.

Digging the Hole

Step Six in building a pond is when we finally get around to digging the hole. There is more to digging the hole than buying a nice shiny shovel (although putting a sharp edge on an old shovel makes digging a lot easier).

We want to dig shelves so our shallow water plants have a place to set down roots without drowning. As a design tip, let me suggest you vary the width of these shelves from eight to eighteen inches. This adds some interest to the water’s edge and prevents the pond from looking like a mad cookie cutter dug it out. The depth of this shelf will be approximately six inches below your ground or water level.

Excavate Fish Hiding Holes

We also want to excavate fish hiding holes at this time. If you dig trenches into the bottom as you are building the pond, the liner will sink down into the trench. You can then put a large flat rock over top of the trench allowing fish to have a hole to hide in should predators learn how to swim.

Dig Holes for Plants

We also want to excavate half-bushel basket sized holes in the bottom of the pond for our lilies. If you do not excavate holes (remember the liner will sink into them) then you’ll have to grow your lilies in large plastic tubs. Planting holes simply make the pond look more realistic. Each lily will require approximately ten to fifteen square feet of pond space in northern climates and slightly larger areas in warmer and longer-growing areas.

Installing the Liner

Step Seven: Now we’re getting to the part everybody looks forward to in building a pond. We’re going to install the liner. (If you want a quick check on evaluating pond liners, click here

Underlay First

But before we install the liner, we definitely want to install an underlay to protect our expensive bit of liner from sharp objects. Some folks use old carpet or newspapers to do the trick and it is true, these will last for a long time and give good service. Newspapers are a pain to lay down as they constantly move around in the breeze and slip and slide as you’re trying to lay down the liner. Large chunks of carpet are better in this regard but are difficult to get flat. Given the choice of newspapers or carpet, I’d go with carpet.

However, if you’re looking for a professional job, use professional grade underlay. It isn’t expensive compared to the liner and it goes down easily and neatly to protect the liner.

After the liner is down, building a pond really starts to take shape because we’re going to lay down our liner. Click here for liner laying tricks of the trade (sorry, the site is so new I haven’t got this done yet)

Ultraviolet Protection

I will tell you that you have to bury the edges of the liner at the pond edge to protect it from UltraViolet light degradation so a shallow trench has to be dug around the perimeter of the pond to accomplish this.

Do Not Cut the Liner

DO NOT CUT THE LINER It is really easy to bury extra liner. It is really, really difficult to make a liner bigger once you have cut it. Professional pond installers rarely cut liners when building a pond (they bury the excess instead) or if they do, it is the absolutely last thing they do after all the water is in the pond, the filters and pumps all work, and the landscaping is almost done.

Click here for steps 8-9-10

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building a pond
Installing the Liner

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